Latest reviews by Dodie Mercer

(2019)
"Not Your Typical D.C. Race!"
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This was my third time running a race in D.C. but my first RnR D.C. half. Previously I've run MCM and Cherry Blossom.

RnR D.C. was a lot different from the start. The expo was held at the Armory and because I hit some bad weather driving into town I wound up getting there two hours before it closed. There were three lines out the door to get in which was a first for me. I waited out in the snow for 40 minutes before making it inside. The hold up was that they were checking backs and wanding everyone with metal detectors before allowing us to enter.

Once I got inside the expo the packet pick up process went smooth since I already knew my bib number. I took a quick trip around the expo to check out the vendors then headed out.

Typically I don't like race shirts but this one really grew on me. It's a short sleeve tech shirt with an eagle and a record. It struck me as funny so I kept it.

Getting to the start line was a snap because I caught an Uber down. The corrals were very well managed with large, clear entry points.

The race itself took us through more of downtown D.C. rather than around the monuments like MCM and Cherry Blossom do. I enjoyed the change in scenery.

Mile 6 started the Blue Mile which is dedicated to service men and women that have lost their lives. This is always such a somber mile for reflection.

This also happened to be the biggest hill on the course. The Blue Mile volunteers really helped me get to the top.

The remainder of the course was gently rolling hills until the end.

There were plenty of water stops, aid stations and bands along the course.

I even stopped for some Guinness at mile 9 that a local group was handing out!

The race finished right outside of RFK Stadium where bands were playing.

RnR races throw hands down the best after parties. I snagged water, Gatorade, chips, fruit snacks, a banana, chocolate milk and some pizza.

Trying to get out of the race was a different story though. My hotel was 2 miles away so I figured I'd just catch an Uber. It took over and hour and a half to get one. There aren't any restaurants or coffee shops down by the stadium so I walked a few blocks with some other runners to a 7/11 to grab coffee and wait. I've never had this much trouble trying to get back from a race and it put a damper on the amazing experience I had.

If you plan to run this race in the future plan ahead for better arrangements to get out.

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(2018)
"Tough 10k"
Overall
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I took part in the Grand Slam weekend and third up was the 10k on Saturday.

We hit the expo Friday afternoon which is in the Arts Quest building across from the historic Steel Stacks. It was easy to navigate with a good mix of vendors. Shout out to Aftershokz!

Earlier in the week we received a virtual goody bag with lots of discounts from the race sponsors. Since I was running the Grand Slam I got a long sleeve and half zip. Both were very nice quality.

Parking was the same as the it was for the expo so that made things easy. The only catch was that some lots would be closed until late morning due to the 10k. Since I was running that as well it was no big deal.

It was a little chilly but there were several buildings right at the start to take cover in and as an added bonus they had bathrooms too!

Since the 5k started late that meant we had even less time to recover for the 10k.

We started a little further down than the 5k but the beginning of the course was very similar. After we went across the bridge though we started to climb, and climb. I swear miles 2-4 were nothing but uphill after uphill with no recovery.

We finally hit a steep downhill that didn't last near long enough before winding our way back to the Steel Stacks to the same finish line.

Again there were a few water stops along the course.

Same medal, this time a 10k version.

We had the same banana, granola bars and water at the finish line.

This is a tough 10k. I'd love to do it again for the challenge.

If you're running a combination of races make sure you leave something for the 10k because it will kick your butt!

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(2018)
"Five Star 5K"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I took part in the Grand Slam weekend and second up was the 5k on Saturday.

We hit the expo Friday afternoon which is in the Arts Quest building across from the historic Steel Stacks. It was easy to navigate with a good mix of vendors. Shout out to Aftershokz!

Earlier in the week we received a virtual goody bag with lots of discounts from the race sponsors. Since I was running the Grand Slam I got a long sleeve and half zip. Both were very nice quality.

Parking was the same as the it was for the expo so that made things easy. The only catch was that some lots would be closed until late morning due to the 10k. Since I was running that as well it was no big deal.

It was a little chilly but there were several buildings right at the start to take cover in and as an added bonus they had bathrooms too!

The race started a little over 10 minutes late due to a train coming through but there's no much they could have done about that. Thankfully it wasn't freezing out.

I don't typically look at course elevation before hand so I was a little surprised with how hilly it was. There was a decent sized hill on the way to a bridge that we crossed and another hill shortly after. We were rewarded with some down hills after that though.

The finish winds you around some of the abandon buildings from the old steel works before finishing right in front of the abandon Steel Stacks. This would be the first of three times I'd cross that finish line since I was doing the grand slam.

The medal was the same size and design as the trail metal except of course it said 5k.

I didn't grab any water on course but there were two water stops. Post race they had granola bars, bananas and water.

Overall I really enjoyed this 5k. It was my first larger scale 5k and I had a lot of fun running it.

Some people ran it stand alone but there was also the Grand Slam option, the Hat Trick option and the Five and Dime option. I really liked this because everyone was really out there doing their own thing.

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(2018)
"First Trail Race Ever!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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I took part in the Grand Slam weekend and first up was the trail race.

We hit the expo Friday afternoon which is in the Arts Quest building across from the historic Steel Stacks. It was easy to navigate with a good mix of vendors. Shout out to Aftershokz!

Earlier in the week we received a virtual goody bag with lots of discounts from the race sponsors. Since I was running the Grand Slam I got a long sleeve and half zip. Both were very nice quality.

Parking for the expo was ample but we needed to take a shuttle to the start of the trail race.

We got there about an hour early and were treated to some warm up talks by team Altra which included tips on trail running. Bart Yasso got on the mic then and told us that when we see the final hill we'll know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He was right!

The trail is mostly single track so it was pretty crowded from the start. Honestly it was kind of nice because I couldn't have gone much faster even if I'd wanted to. There were some pretty serious hills on the course in addition to the final doozy of a hill.

I remember at least two water stops on the course and an aide station.

The course scenery a beautiful fall afternoon in Pennsylvania.

We were served hot pizza at the finish along with bags of popcorn.

This was my first trail race and I loved every minute of it! I am by no means a trail runner and I found it to be fun and not at all intimidating. I'd highly recommend it, even if you're not a trail runner!

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(2018)
"Icing on the Cake of a Great Weekend"
Overall
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I took part in the Grand Slam weekend and lastly we ran the half marathon on Sunday.

We hit the expo Friday afternoon which is in the Arts Quest building across from the historic Steel Stacks. It was easy to navigate with a good mix of vendors. Shout out to Aftershokz!

Earlier in the week we received a virtual goody bag with lots of discounts from the race sponsors. Since I was running the Grand Slam I got a long sleeve and half zip. Both were very nice quality.

Parking was the same as it had been all weekend. I got there half an hour before the race and was able to park and walk to the start in 5 minutes.

It was a lot colder so I was even more thankful for the heated buildings with bathrooms.

I believe the start was the same as it was for the 10k. On Friday a local runner and I decided to run the race together so I found her in our corral and we were off.

We wove around the same streets we had for the races the day before. Aubrey had advised me that there were four "challenges" to the course. Each challenge was comprised of a set of hills.

The first challenge came at mile three and was easy enough. It was the same bridge we'd crossed in the 5k and 10k followed by an uphill with a little downhill recovery.

The next challenge came at mile six. To the best of my memory it was a few steeper hills back to back.

For me the third challenge was the most difficult it was a long gradual hill that never seemed to end. This was from miles 7-8. My Oiselle Volee ladies were waiting at the top though and that lifted my spirits.

The last of the challenges came in mile 10. I knew once that hill was over I'd be home free. A little down hill then the same route back as the 5k and 10k.

There's something really cool about crossing the same finish line three times over the course of three days.

Since I did the Grand Slam I was given a special larger finisher medal.

Post race they had bagels, granola bars, bananas and water.

The course had ample water stops and I think a few even had gels.

Overall I'd highly recommend this half marathon. It's a great course full of challenges. I'd also recommend combining it with some of the other races of the weekend. Runner's World really knows how to put on an event.

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